A couple of strange coincidences led to getting these photos.
As Jim wrote yesterday, Danny Watkins has reportedly retired from football and is now happily fighting fires in Dallas. Shortly after the post went up, a trusted tipster recounted a story to me about how Watkins, during his time with the Eagles, actively fought fires with Rescue 1, something that went directly against Andy Reid’s orders (for obvious reasons), and that there were pictures of Watkins coming out of a burning building in Philly. Fighting fires, it is assumed, is a blatant violation of any NFL contract. This morning, I emailed Watkins’ publicist (during his time in Philly, at least) to see if he could put me in touch with Watkins, whom, I thought, may have wanted to talk about how he used to sneak away from the team and fight fires. He’s retired, after all, so it’s not like he has anything to lose. I haven’t yet received a response from said publicist, but about an hour after I sent that email, a separate, known tipster, who has ties to the Philadelphia Fire Department, emailed me almost the exact same story about Watkins… and these photos:
That’s Watkins, fighting a four-alarm fire at Aramingo and Wakeling on December 16, 2012, just three days after the Eagles lost to the Bengels in Week 15 in what would prove to be Watkins’ last game as a Bird.
Here’s how one of the tipsters described Watkins’ involvement with the fire department:
He used to ride the fire trucks and fight fires on a regular basis with the Philadelphia Fire Department during the season. This fire was on the Eagles Bye week. The pictures attached are of him with Rescue-1, the cities elite firefighter unit.
I am not sure if you are aware that non-fire department personnel are not allowed to fight fires in the city. But since he was an Eagle and would regularly provide game tickets to the right people they allowed it to happen.
And I am not an expert on pro athlete contacts, but I would guess that running into a burning building would be some violation of the terms.
Not sure if you are interested. This shows the bad luck the Eagles have, this fucking guy has a once and a lifetime opportunity and he would rather ride a fire truck than get better at his real job.
On one hand, Watkins’ passion for fighting fires is commendable. It’s hard to say anything bad about a guy who would rather run in to burning buildings than get paid millions to play a sport. On the other, Watkins allegedly told Reid, after Reid expressed concern at his hanging around the firehouse, that he merely enjoyed the camaraderie and performed odd jobs such as helping with the chores and cleaning and never went out on calls. There’s also the issue of, as the tipster mentioned, non-fire department personnel fighting fires. The tipster, an Eagles fan who was kind of pissed about this, says firefighters work years to make their way up to Rescue 1, but Watkins was able to just show up because he was an Eagle. He supposedly gave tickets to department big wigs, as well.
A week after this fire, Jeff McLane of the Inquirer wrote about how Watkins was sorely in need of a “fresh start,” and made mention of a “chronic” ankle injury Watkins had earlier in the season.
Watkins is retired now, but since Andy Reid just signed former hilarious Eagles draft pick Mike McGlynn, we probably shouldn’t rule out Watkins getting yet another fresh start in Kansas City. The fire department there is currently accepting applications.
The photos used in this post come via a tipster and are courtesy of Dan Clerico of NortheastBravest.com, who has a full gallery from this fire here. I couldn’t spot Watkins in any other photos, but maybe you’ll have better luck.